A 12 week public consultation gets underway today (Tuesday) on a preferred option to build a new community hospital in the Forest of Dean by 2021/22, ‘fit for modern healthcare.’

Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust and NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group believe this option would ensure high quality care in the future, meet the needs of local residents and improve working conditions for staff.

If agreed, the new hospital would replace Dilke Memorial Hospital and Lydney and District Hospital when it opens its doors.

The consultation follows extensive engagement in the Forest of Dean throughout the lifetime of the Forest Health and Care Review.

The consultation booklet describes why it is believed that ‘no change to facilities’ or effectively ‘replicating what we already have now’ will not deliver the care or service benefits that patients and staff deserve.

The challenges:

• the two existing community hospitals are reaching the stage where it is becoming increasingly difficult to provide modern, efficient, effective, high-quality care
• the ability to maintain some essential services across two community hospital sites is becoming increasingly difficult with healthcare professionals working across different sites and the challenge of recruiting and keeping enough staff with the right skills
• there are significant issues relating to cost of maintenance of the existing hospitals and restricted space for services
• the current physical environment within the hospitals makes it increasingly difficult to ensure privacy and dignity for all patients and manage infection control
• too many people from the Forest of Dean are having to travel outside the local area to receive care that should be provided more locally
• healthcare needs within the Forest of Dean are not always being met effectively.

The consultation booklet also describes the following benefits associated with the preferred option:

• a new community hospital for local people, fit for modern healthcare
• significantly improved facilities and space for patients and staff

• more consistent, reliable and sustainable community hospital services, e.g. staffing levels, opening hours
• a wide range of community hospital services, including beds, accommodation to support outpatient services and urgent care services
• services and teams working more closely together
• better working conditions for staff and greater opportunities for training and development to recruit and retain the best health and care professionals.

Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust, Katie Norton said:

“We owe a debt of gratitude to people of vision and generosity who have helped develop healthcare facilities and services in the Forest of Dean over many generations.

Now, mindful of changes in healthcare and the needs of our population, we have an opportunity to build on that legacy.

We are proposing to invest in the Forest of Dean to support modern, high quality care and believe the preferred option of a new hospital would deliver real benefits to patients and our dedicated staff.

Subject to the outcome of consultation, we would work with local people to design the facility. We would want it to be a worthy successor to the current hospitals and in keeping with the unique environment of the Forest of Dean.”

Accountable Officer of NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, Mary Hutton said:

“We share the view that local people and future generations in the Forest of Dean deserve the very best community hospital facilities.

The possibility of a new hospital, and the benefits that could bring, was raised by many people during review discussions, including healthcare professionals who identified opportunities for more joined up working.

We are keen to hear the views of patients, health and care professionals and the public and there are number of ways to feedback.”

Local GP and Chair of the Forest of Dean Primary Care Group, which includes representatives from local GP practices, Dr Sophia Sandford said:

“A new purpose built community hospital could offer many benefits to our patients – whether that’s improved clinical space to support services, more reliable, consistent opening hours for some services or simply an improved care environment for patients.

We recognise that there are a variety of views and we would encourage community partners, those working within local services and the public to take part in the consultation and have their say.”

Local GP and member of the Forest of Dean Primary Care Group, Dr Paul Weiss said:

“Patient care has to be the top priority and I believe that the preferred option presents a genuine opportunity for the people of the Forest of Dean to get a first class, purpose built community hospital that will serve future generations.

I believe it would bring staff together and attract clinicians to work in the Forest of Dean.”

Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust and NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group are also taking the opportunity through this consultation to ask for views on:

• A set of criteria which would be used to help decide where any new hospital would be located and;
• How a recommendation should be made on any preferred location.

Read the booklet and complete the survey on-line at fodhealth.nhs.uk